There is a school of thought among pro-Europeans that a No vote in the forthcoming Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty would be better than a Yes. (Adrian Hamilton in the Independent expresses the argument well: you can read it here.)
I disagree: people hoping for an Irish referendum defeat should be careful what they wish for. The hope is that rejection might lead to a reappraisal of the treaty and that national government leaders will discover a renewed sense of Euro-enthusiasm.
More likely, they will be confirmed in their growing view that the European Union is the cause and not the solution of the problems they face in politics and that therefore the less said and done about Europe, the better. This means that the fundamental problem posed by the distance between the EU institutions and the voters will continue to go unaddressed: most national governments do not seem to care very much about this distance and some actually welcome it.
The new forward impulse that Adrian Hamilton rightly argues that Europe needs will come not from its own internal machinations but from external events. Fortunately, there is no shortage of those. Energy security, climate change, the globalised economy: any one of these is enough to bring the EU back to life. And of course, the improvements contained in the Lisbon treaty will enable Europe to be more effective in dealing with them. This is the reason why the Irish should vote Yes.